[Milton-L] Re: Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Mon Jul 25 15:24:50 EDT 2011


 Michelle:

makes good sense. thanks, jim watt
________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Michelle Zappa [michelleazappa at gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011 8:45 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] Re: Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex

"Neither do I see what basis there is for the claim that readers feel uncomfortable about the book 9 scene; or that Adam and Eve do. Sex is "the solace of their sin." After the fact, they are horrified at having fallen. But this is nothing directly to do with their copulation. They would have been fallen, on the basis of their disobedience, whether or not they then decided to play their favorite game. JDF"

Does "the solace of their sin" echo the building of pandaemonium in Book 1, or even the fallen angels singing in Book 2:

"Their song was partial; but the harmony
(What could it less when spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended hell"

Milton allows the fallen angel some respite from their hell through building their palace, but also through creating beautiful harmonies that remind them and the reader that these beings were once glorious before they fell. That they sing, something the angels clearly still enjoy, adds a note of poignancy (excuse the pun).

This poignancy seems the same with Adam and Eve - once fallen, they are still able to engage in their previous activities (i.e. sex) which were good and glorious. However, now fallen, Adam and Eve have lost something of the purity of their sex - instead of enjoying each other's bodies, "in lust they burn", just as the fallen angels burn in the molten lake. I don't think, however, that the fallen sex is meant to seem comfortable, in the same way that inevitably building a palace in hell or singing to each other doesn't make the fallen angels' pain subside.

Michelle



On 21 July 2011 00:05, Christopher Baker <christopher.baker at armstrong.edu<mailto:christopher.baker at armstrong.edu>> wrote:
I think Milton's vatic narrator is presenting an unfallen erotic scene of married love knowing full well that it risks being read as a fallen pornographic scene of physical gratification.  The irony created here generates discussions such as ours.  The only way the epic can be read is "outside the garden", so to speak. As Richard Rohr says, "The whole Bible is written outside the garden."
Chris Baker

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Today's Topics:

  1. Re: Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex (Hannibal Hamlin)
  2. Re: It's Confirmed! (Mitchell M. Harris)
  3. Re: It's Confirmed! (JD Fleming)
  4. Erotic vs. Pornographic (Carol Barton)
  5. Re: Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex (richard strier)
  6. disobedience of our members (JD Fleming)
  7. RE: Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex (Tony Demarest)
  8. Re: It's Confirmed! (JD Fleming)


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Message: 1
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:51:41 -0400
From: Hannibal Hamlin <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com<mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
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I think the classic art historical work here is Kenneth Clark's *The Nude: A
Study in Ideal Form*, isn't it? The distinction is interesting but tenuous.
Several years ago I advertized a Milton course with Masaccio's
*Expulsion*from the Brancacci Chapel -- which seemed to me (and stil
does) a powerful
painting and interesting in its contrast with Milton's expulsion scene. It
hadn't occurred to me that the nude Adam and Eve were also naked, but a
student accused me of spreading pornography on campus. I say tomato . . . .

Hannibal



On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 5:39 PM, Carol Barton <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net<mailto:cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>>wrote:

> I think the distinction between fallen and unfallen sex might be
> easier for women to comprehend, Richard (and that's
> not--intentionally--a sexist comment). There is a real distinction for
> most women between making love (unfallen sex, if you will) and the
> sort of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am engagement that occurs between casual
> partners (or those involved in a retail relationship).
>
> Nudity and nakedness are different? I had no idea . . . but with a
> heat index of 102F and climbing (around 35C for those who don't
> Fahrenheit) I think I'd welcome being either one . . .
>
> Best to all,
>
> Carol Barton
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "richard strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu<mailto:rastrier at uchicago.edu>>
> To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
> Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 3:51 PM
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!
>
>
> Well, I don't hold the view (which some philosophers--e.g. Roger
> Scruton) hold
> that great art can't be erotically stimulating.  Seems like a silly
> view.  Lots of
> great Renaissance art is very sexy.  MIlton insists -- surely with his
> male readers
> in mind (but not only, of course) -- on Eve's gorgeousness and her
> absolute
> nakedness. No reason for us, or her, to feel ashamed, and no reason
> for us (or
> her, or Adam) not to feel erotically aroused.
>
> And, to say something that will surely invite/incite some responses, I
> think the
> supposed contrast between the fallen and unfallen sex of A and E to be
> quite
> unconvincing.
>
> And, finally, I think the supposed distinction between nudity and
> nakedness
> (Kenneth Clark) also to be bogus (let's all pretend to be very
> high-minded!).
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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>



--
Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
Editor, *Reformation*
Co-curator, *Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King
James Bible*
http://www.manifoldgreatness.org/
The Ohio State University
164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
Columbus, OH 43210-1340
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hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com<mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>
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Message: 2
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 16:54:48 -0500
From: "Mitchell M. Harris" <mitchell.harris at augie.edu<mailto:mitchell.harris at augie.edu>>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Message-ID: <49A52A98-617F-4903-BEC7-F9944B00F1D7 at augie.edu<mailto:49A52A98-617F-4903-BEC7-F9944B00F1D7 at augie.edu>>
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>
>  Isn't there also something somewhere about the involuntary nature
> of (especially male) sexual arousal being a product of the Fall?
>
> Hannibal
>
>

Yes. Augustine tackles the issues of spontaneous erections and
nocturnal emissions in the Confessions, City of God, and On
Concupiscence. And he generally addresses the issue of the separation
of the body from both desire and will throughout all of his marriage
treatises--an argument which also is implicit in many of his treatises
on hermeneutics (Of Christian Doctrine, The Literal Interpretation of
Genesis, The Teacher, etc.).



------------------------------

Message: 3
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 14:56:37 -0700 (PDT)
From: JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca<mailto:jfleming at sfu.ca>>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Message-ID:
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I have always found the distinction between the erotic and the pornographic, and the moralism that underwrites it, very dubious. jdf

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Gillum" <mgillum at unca.edu<mailto:mgillum at unca.edu>>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 2:15:20 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!


Stephen Dedalus defines pornography as something that makes you want to masturbate--at least that's what I think he meant about kinesis . Obviously this is not a rigorous critical theory, but maybe it makes sense to define pornography in terms of how it affects typical readers and viewers, allowing for differences of sexual orientation. Thus, "I know it when I see it."


Milton's description of Adam and Eve asleep, naked and entangled under the shower of rose petals, is deliciously erotic but not pornographic, and it's one of the poem's greatest moments. The whole bliss of prelapsarian life is right there. And then the narrator complicates it with a dark foreshadowing.
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Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

"to see what is questionable"


------------------------------

Message: 4
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:57:11 -0400
From: "Carol Barton" <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net<mailto:cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>>
Subject: [Milton-L] Erotic vs. Pornographic
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Message-ID: <F74CFDD03B734E4195CEA12821B2695D at CarolBartonPC>
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Offhand, I would say that erotic is appealing . . . while pornographic is appalling.

Rhett Butler carrying Scarlett O'Hara up that grand staircase is erotic . . . but not pornographic.

For me, a photograph (as one in an exhibit banned from the National Portrait Gallery) of one person urinating into another's mouth is pornographic but not erotic.

I think there has to be an element of the distasteful in pornography.

And I disagree--vehemently--with the notion that Milton would be pleased by the thought of anyone masturbating while reading _Paradise Lost_ (sorry, Richard). That is--never--what _Paradise Lost_ is about. He believed (see DDD) that the union of man and woman, properly joined, lifted the souls of both nearer heaven, and was the closest approximation to heavenly love we could know on earth.

Masturbation is about self-gratification, not love, and not the elevation of souls.


Best to all,

Carol Barton
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Message: 5
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:00:35 -0500 (CDT)
From: richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu<mailto:rastrier at uchicago.edu>>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Message-ID: <20110720170035.ATY45523 at mstore01.uchicago.edu<mailto:20110720170035.ATY45523 at mstore01.uchicago.edu>>
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But how can sex between A and E be "casual," and it's certainly not "retail."  I
don''t see how any of this is relevant to PL -- though I must say that, even to a
mere male, the distinctions you note seem pretty obvious.



---- Original message ----
>Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:39:28 -0400
>From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> (on behalf of "Carol Barton"
<cbartonphd1 at verizon.net<mailto:cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>>)
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex
>To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
>
>I think the distinction between fallen and unfallen sex might be
>easier for women to comprehend, Richard (and that's
>not--intentionally--a sexist comment). There is a real distinction for
>most women between making love (unfallen sex, if you will) and the
>sort of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am engagement that occurs between
casual
>partners (or those involved in a retail relationship).
>
>Nudity and nakedness are different? I had no idea . . . but with a
>heat index of 102F and climbing (around 35C for those who don't
>Fahrenheit) I think I'd welcome being either one . . .
>
>Best to all,
>
>Carol Barton
>
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "richard strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu<mailto:rastrier at uchicago.edu>>
>To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
>Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 3:51 PM
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!
>
>
>Well, I don't hold the view (which some philosophers--e.g. Roger
>Scruton) hold
>that great art can't be erotically stimulating.  Seems like a silly
>view.  Lots of
>great Renaissance art is very sexy.  MIlton insists -- surely with his
>male readers
>in mind (but not only, of course) -- on Eve's gorgeousness and her
>absolute
>nakedness. No reason for us, or her, to feel ashamed, and no reason
>for us (or
>her, or Adam) not to feel erotically aroused.
>
>And, to say something that will surely invite/incite some responses, I
>think the
>supposed contrast between the fallen and unfallen sex of A and E to be
>quite
>unconvincing.
>
>And, finally, I think the supposed distinction between nudity and
>nakedness
>(Kenneth Clark) also to be bogus (let's all pretend to be very
>high-minded!).
>
>
>
>_______________________________________________
>Milton-L mailing list
>Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu>
>Manage your list membership and access list archives at
http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l
>
>Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/



------------------------------

Message: 6
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 15:06:26 -0700 (PDT)
From: JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca<mailto:jfleming at sfu.ca>>
Subject: [Milton-L] disobedience of our members
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Message-ID:
       <99165051.2031327.1311199586242.JavaMail.root at jaguar9.sfu.ca<mailto:99165051.2031327.1311199586242.JavaMail.root at jaguar9.sfu.ca>>
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Indeed -- CS Lewis via Augustine. For whom (as James Grantham Turner, I think, puts it), pre-lapsarian sex was just a kind of "erotic peeing." Which would, no doubt, seem far preferable to what we've got, were we not all so terribly fallen.

This whole business, vis-a-vis PL, always makes me think of the great late (I assume he's gone) Irish comedian Dave Allen, whose smoky swinging variety show re-ran on PBS during my formative years. He did a monologue once -- riffing, I suspect, on Shaw rather than on Milton -- in which he suggested that while Heaven would be all clean cotton sheets and mandolins and prayer meetings, Hell would be strippers 24/7, booze galore, fast cars, and all the wicked spicy food you could eat. That, Dave Allen said, was God's sense of humor. Then he leaned in close to the camera, on his little mod white bar stool, and added grimly: "I don't like God's sense of humor."

JD Fleming

----- Original Message -----
From: "Hannibal Hamlin" <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com<mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 2:45:06 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!



Surely the story of Pygmalion is all about the impossibility of neatly separating the aesthetic and erotic? Given the broad range of human sexual desires (I'll forgo details), I doubt there is any image or narrative that someone couldn't find sexually arousing. Many English (and other) Bibles included among their illustrations Bathsheba bathing naked. Perhaps this was intended to teach a lesson about the dangers of looking into other people's houses (though she's often, as in the Great Bible, outside), but I bet many readers looked at it rather differently. The story of Susanna and the Elders (naked bathing again) was another very popular subject for illustrations, including, I gather, on painted wall cloths. Were such images always viewed chastely?

As for the scene in PL, surely we're in the position of Satan, viewing Adam and Eve from his perspective? Perhaps we can recognize that we oughtn't to have any kind of sexual response to their innocent nudity, but in our fallen state can we help it? Isn't there also something somewhere about the involuntary nature of (especially male) sexual arousal being a product of the Fall?

Hannibal





On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 5:15 PM, Michael Gillum < mgillum at unca.edu<mailto:mgillum at unca.edu> > wrote:


Stephen Dedalus defines pornography as something that makes you want to masturbate--at least that's what I think he meant about kinesis . Obviously this is not a rigorous critical theory, but maybe it makes sense to define pornography in terms of how it affects typical readers and viewers, allowing for differences of sexual orientation. Thus, "I know it when I see it."


Milton's description of Adam and Eve asleep, naked and entangled under the shower of rose petals, is deliciously erotic but not pornographic, and it's one of the poem's greatest moments. The whole bliss of prelapsarian life is right there. And then the narrator complicates it with a dark foreshadowing.
_______________________________________________
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Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

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--

Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
Editor, Reformation
Co-curator, Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible
http://www.manifoldgreatness.org/
The Ohio State University
164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
Columbus, OH 43210-1340
hamlin.22 at osu.edu/<http://hamlin.22@osu.edu/>
hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com<mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>

_______________________________________________
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Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

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--
James Dougal Fleming
Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

"to see what is questionable"


------------------------------

Message: 7
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 18:06:45 -0400
From: Tony Demarest <tonydemarest at hotmail.com<mailto:tonydemarest at hotmail.com>>
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex
To: <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Message-ID: <BAY165-w53255BB63D50FA73D5ECADDE4C0 at phx.gbl>
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Carol- "retail relationship"- love it!And one can only wonder how much sinister delight Milton enjoyed when he created the seduction and sin scene- the serpent (the ancient phallic symbol) brings back with a roar the catalogue of demons- there is so much unwritten weight in this scene, so the reader feels that weight of countless demons and idols dragging Eve down to her post-lapsarian state. Like hitching a ride on a Harley through the backroads of Arkansas. As Frost said, "Nothing gold can stay."Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" with its refrain, "we have to get ourselves back to the garden"- a fine 1960's revel in the comfort of believing one can swap the "post" for the "pre."

Tony

> From: cbartonphd1 at verizon.net<mailto:cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>
> To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex
> Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:39:28 -0400
>
> I think the distinction between fallen and unfallen sex might be
> easier for women to comprehend, Richard (and that's
> not--intentionally--a sexist comment). There is a real distinction for
> most women between making love (unfallen sex, if you will) and the
> sort of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am engagement that occurs between casual
> partners (or those involved in a retail relationship).
>
> Nudity and nakedness are different? I had no idea . . . but with a
> heat index of 102F and climbing (around 35C for those who don't
> Fahrenheit) I think I'd welcome being either one . . .
>
> Best to all,
>
> Carol Barton
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "richard strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu<mailto:rastrier at uchicago.edu>>
> To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
> Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 3:51 PM
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!
>
>
> Well, I don't hold the view (which some philosophers--e.g. Roger
> Scruton) hold
> that great art can't be erotically stimulating.  Seems like a silly
> view.  Lots of
> great Renaissance art is very sexy.  MIlton insists -- surely with his
> male readers
> in mind (but not only, of course) -- on Eve's gorgeousness and her
> absolute
> nakedness. No reason for us, or her, to feel ashamed, and no reason
> for us (or
> her, or Adam) not to feel erotically aroused.
>
> And, to say something that will surely invite/incite some responses, I
> think the
> supposed contrast between the fallen and unfallen sex of A and E to be
> quite
> unconvincing.
>
> And, finally, I think the supposed distinction between nudity and
> nakedness
> (Kenneth Clark) also to be bogus (let's all pretend to be very
> high-minded!).
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Milton-L mailing list
> Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu>
> Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l
>
> Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/

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Message: 8
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 15:16:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca<mailto:jfleming at sfu.ca>>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Message-ID:
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I'm afraid I see this one the other way around: what's interesting is precisely how much is the _the same_ between the book 4 and book 9 representations of sexuality. Centering on the word "Seized."

Neither do I see what basis there is for the claim that readers feel uncomfortable about the book 9 scene; or that Adam and Eve do. Sex is "the solace of their sin." After the fact, they are horrified at having fallen. But this is nothing directly to do with their copulation. They would have been fallen, on the basis of their disobedience, whether or not they then decided to play their favorite game. JDF


----- Original Message -----
From: "Mitchell M. Harris" <mitchell.harris at augie.edu<mailto:mitchell.harris at augie.edu>>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:36:25 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!

Dr. Strier, would you argue that PL is pornographic before the fall?
I've always thought that Milton was following a conventional patristic
argument that Augustine made against Jerome in defending the notion of
prelapsarian sex--thus drawing a middle line between Jerome and
Jovinian in debates on the role of human sexuality in prelapsarian
Eden. I would certainly see the sex scene after the fall as being
pornographic--Milton goes out of his way to make us feel as
uncomfortable as Adam and Eve feel about the act. But I've always
thought that the prelapsarian scenes are natural and untitillating,
which, paradoxically, is provocative in its own right.

Best,
       Mitch Harris


On Jul 20, 2011, at 2:13 PM, richard strier wrote:

> Absolutely right about the necessity for non-self-conscious
> nakedness.  After
> all, PL is one of the great pornographic works of all time.  The
> audience might
> begin by leering and tittering, but, as at nude beaches, the lack of
> pretense
> would affect the experience after a while.  And if we titter, so
> what?  We're fallen,
> they're not (for most of the Eden scenes).  And sometimes, as Milton
> thought, we
> can transcend our fallenness.
>
>

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--
James Dougal Fleming
Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

"to see what is questionable"


------------------------------

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End of Milton-L Digest, Vol 56, Issue 19
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